Helmed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Jio, India has the cheapest mobile data in the world with 1GB costing just Rs 18.5 (USD 0.26) as compared to global average of about Rs 600, research by price comparison site Cable.co.uk showed. The average price of USD 0.26 for one gigabyte (GB) in India compares to USD 6.66 in the UK and USD 12.37 for the same amount of data in the US, the study, which compared mobile data charges in 230 countries, showed. The global average was USD 8.53 for 1GB.
"A country whose young population has a particularly high technological awareness, India offers a vibrant smartphone market, with strong adoption and many competitors. Data, therefore, is quite staggeringly cheap," it said.
With over 430 million smartphone users, India is the second largest smartphone market in the world after China.
In 2016, Ambani sparked a price war in India's hyper-competitive telecom market with the launch of 4G phone service Jio. Since then, Jio has signed on 280 million customers by offering free domestic voice calls, dirt-cheap data services, and virtually free smartphones.
Its offering has led to slashing of rates by its competitors as well.
Jio has helped Ambani jump six positions on the Forbes World's Billionaire list to rank 13th in the world.
Ambani, 61, saw wealth soar from USD 40.1 billion in 2018 when he was placed 19th richest in the world, to USD 50 billion to be at rank 13th in 2019, Forbes said Tuesday.
"Ambani chairs and runs USD 60 billion (revenue) oil and gas giant Reliance Industries, among India's most valuable companies," Forbes said.
Cable.co.uk said it compared data from 6,313 mobile data plans in 230 countries between October 23 and November 28, 2018 for the study.
For the India market, researchers studied 57 plans and found that 1GB of data was available in the country for as low as Rs 1.75 (USD 0.02) and for a maximum of Rs 99.9 (USD 1.4), it said.
India is followed by Kyrgyzstan where 1GB data is available for USD 0.27, Kazakstan (USD 0.49) and Ukraine (USD 0.51). Zimbabwe is the most expensive country where average cost of 1GB data comes at an eye-watering USD 75.20.
Africa has both the cheapest and most expensive rates, with Rwanda, Sudan and Congo all offering less than USD 1 data prices but Equatorial Guinea and Saint Helena both charging more than USD 50 for 1GB.
One GB of mobile data in China costs an average of USD 9.89. Sri Lanka offers 1GB of data for an average of USD 0.87 while Bangladesh tags it at USD 0.99. In Pakistan, 1GB is available for USD 1.85.
Ambani leads the 106 billionaires from India on the Forbes list. Wipro Chairman Azim Premji is ranked 36th with a net worth of USD 22.6 billion. Technology major HCL's co-founder Shiv Nadar ranked 82nd and ArcelorMittal Chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal was at 91st spot in the list.
Others in the list are Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Birla (122), Chairman and founder of the Adani Group Gautam Adani (167), Bharti Airtel head Sunil Mittal (244).
Co-founder of consumer goods giant Patanjali Ayurveda Acharya Balkrishna was at 365th rank, Piramal Entreprises Chair Ajay Piramal (436), Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (617), Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy (962) and RCom chairman Anil Ambani (1,349).